WOMEN IN STEM: Coursera knows it has a gender representation problem in its Massive Open Online Courses. “On Coursera, 34 percent of our course completions in STEM fields are by females—substantially higher than the share of STEM degree graduates, but still far from full parity,” the company wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. But the Silicon Valley startup isn’t trying to hide those figures. Instead, it’s trying to figure out why women are less likely to enroll and complete a STEM course on the platform, and how to reverse those trends.
Recently, Coursera tested a hunch it had about the issue by sending learners different versions of an email promotion for a series of courses it offered, such as Master Machine Learning, featuring either a male or female instructor. The results? Female students were 26 percent more likely to enroll in STEM courses if the instructor was female.
Now, the company says it’s working to increase both the number of women enrolling in STEM, and the number of women teaching those courses. “We are actively making improvements on the Coursera platform to attract more women to STEM learning content,” noted the blog post. “This includes sourcing female instructors to develop and teach STEM courses, minimizing gendered pronouns in descriptions of courses and Specializations, and working with all instructors to create more accessible and inclusive learning experiences.”